366 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING think they knew exactly how valuable and how revelatory the teachings would be when the modern world grew ready to receive them. I think of Dudjom Rinpoche and Karmapa, who chose to die in the West itself, as if to bless it with the power of their enlightenment. May their prayers for the transformation of the world and for the illumination of the hearts and minds of humanity be fulfilled! And may we who received their teachings be responsible to them, and strive to embody them! The greatest challenge that spiritual teachings such as Buddhism face in this transition from their ancient settings to the West is how, in a turbulent, fast-paced, and restless world, students of these teachings can find ways to practice them with the calm and steady consistency that they require for the realization of their truth to be possible. Spiritual training, after all, is the highest and in some ways the most demanding form of education, and it must be followed with the same dedicated and systematic application as any other kind of serious training. How can we accept that to train to be a doctor requires years of study and practice, but all we require for our spiritual path through life are chance blessings, initiations, and occasional encounters with different masters? In the past, people stayed in one place and followed a master all their lives. Think of Milarepa, serving Marpa for years before he was spiritually mature enough to leave him and practice on his own. Spiritual training requires a continuous transmission, working with the master and learning, following him or her with ardor and subtle skill. The main question for the future of the teaching in the modern world is how those who are following the teachings can be helped and inspired to find the right inner and outer environment in which fully to practice them, follow them through, and come to realize and embody their heart essence. The teachings of all the mystical paths of the world make it clear that there is within us an enormous reservoir of power, the power of wisdom and compassion, the power of what Christ called the Kingdom of Heaven. If we learn how to use it—and this is the goal of the search for enlightenment—it can transform not only ourselves but the world around us. Has there ever been a time when the clear use of this sacred power was more essential or more urgent? Has there ever been a time when it was more vital to understand the nature of this pure power and how to channel it and use it for the sake of the world? I pray that all of you who read this book
SERVANTS OF PEACE 367 may come to know and believe in the power of enlightenment, and come to recognize the nature of your mind, for to recognize the nature of your mind is to engender in the ground of your being an understanding that will change your entire world view, and help you discover and develop, naturally and spontaneously, a compassionate desire to serve all beings, as well as a direct knowledge of how best you can do so, with whatever skill or ability you have, in whatever circumstances you find yourself. I pray then that you will come to know in the very core of your being the living truth of these words by Nyoshul Khenpo: An effortless compassion can arise for all beings who have not realized their true nature. So limitless is it that if tears could express it, you would cry without end. Not only compassion, but tremendous skillful means can be born when you realize the nature of mind. Also you are naturally liberated from all suffering and fear, such as the fear of birth, death, and the intermediate state. Then if you were to speak of the joy and bliss that arise from this realization, it is said by the buddhas that if you were to gather all the glory, enjoyment, pleasure, and happiness of the world and put it all together, it would not approach one tiny fraction of the bliss that you experience upon realizing the nature of mind. To serve the world out of this dynamic union of wisdom and compassion would be to participate most effectively in the preservation of the planet. Masters of all the religious traditions on earth now understand that spiritual training is essential not solely for monks and nuns, but for all people, whatever their faith or way of life. What I have tried to show in this book is the intensely practical, active, and effective nature of spiritual development. As a famous Tibetan teaching says: "When the world is filled with evil, all mishaps should be transformed into the path of enlightenment." The danger we are all in together makes it essential now that we no longer think of spiritual development as a luxury, but as a necessity for survival. Let us dare to imagine now what it would be like to live in a world where a significant number of people took the opportunity offered by the teachings, to devote part of their lives to serious spiritual practice, to recognize the nature of their mind, and so to use the opportunity of their deaths to move closer to buddhahood, and to be reborn with one aim, that of serving and benefiting others.